• Life,  Reading

    Out of Habit?

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather
    To me, my X-men.

    There are a number of things that I wonder if I just do out of habit.

    The thing that I’m thinking of this morning is reading X-Men comics. Online subscriptions are a thing, not that I couldn’t get other ways I want to, but I’m getting closer and closer to being caught up to the present. I think, right now, what I’m reading is near the middle of 2017, so I’m not even a year and a half in the past now. It’s taken me a number of years to get from the beginning to here, with easy, essentially unlimited access, and there have been a lot of great stories along the way. That hasn’t always been the case. It isn’t currently the case.

    Keep in mind that I’m talking about the X-Men piece of the Marvel universe, specifically.

    The 1960s X-Men were, frankly, immature, though fun. After all, it was the early days of superhero comics, so you got a lot of straightforward stories without much twisting us and very rarely dealing with anything beyond surface appearances.

    In the 70s, and 80s, the storytelling was bigger, sometimes epic, broader, and mostly better. In small ways, at first, it began to deal with societal issues in ways that viewers of 1960s television would recognize: not very subtly and not very deeply.

    In the 90s, things branched out even more. More titles, more frequent, just more. The universe became staggeringly huge, too big for any one person to take care of, to keep up with, to remember everything in. Continuity issues became constant, and those go on into today. Characters disappear only to reappear with a complete overhaul after years of absence and no explanation of what happened to them in between, no justification for why they’ve completely changed or why they hadn’t. Even if they’d been dead.

    In the 2000s, the storytelling went downhill, and that continues into the present, too. You get multi-issue story arcs that resolve nothing and don’t even do anything to grow the characters because any character growth that happens disappears again as soon as the next story arc starts.

    Honestly, reading the X-Men titles from say the past 10-12 years has been looking for the one good story mixed in with 10 mediocre and 14 crappy ones. I might be misrepresenting the ratios a little bit since mediocre versus crappy tends to matter of taste, but the good story arcs are definitely few and far between.

    It really doesn’t seem to me like most the writers actually care about the characters. “I need the character to act this way for the story I want to tell, and I don’t care if it makes no logical sense, or if they would never do that. That’s what the going to do.” Consistency is actually important, folks.

    And time compression is worse than soap operas. I’m honestly supposed to believe that the primary characters have gone through the comic events of the last thirty years while aging only a few months.

    So if I’m really that unhappy with the state of the X-verse, why am I still reading?

    I think it might be out of habit. Reading X-Men comics is something I do, so I read X-Men comics. And I seem to keep reading them no matter how frequently I’m disappointed in the result.

    I wonder if that may be part of what keeps me coming back to other things as well. Habit.

    Am I allowing myself to become stuck in various ruts?

    Is it time to let go of some of them?

    Are there things that would be a better use of my time?

    That last one, at least, has an easy answer. Yes, there absolutely are. So that leads me into another question: why aren’t I spending my time on those things?

    Be well, everyone.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
  • Gaming

    Game Review – X-Men: Destiny

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather

    Quiet around here lately. Sorry. Real world has been busy. Trying to address that, but going through some upheaval over the short term. I think things will settle out fine in the new year, but it’s going to be a bit crazy until then for a lot of reasons. I do have several book reviews ready to go and I might be ready to announce a couple of small writing things soon, but neither of those is why I’m blogging today.

    Today, I took a step forward in my long range quest to play through all of the video games I’ve bought and never finished. Not that I have a lot of gaming time, but lately I’ve been working mostly on “Mass Effect 2” and “Lego Indiana Jones”. But this afternoon, I finished a play through of “X-Men Destiny”.

    Don’t look for a detailed review to follow, and you can already tell there aren’t a lot of (or any) screen shots following the text. This was a play for pure pleasure, just for fun, and I didn’t do any analysis as I went along.

    The campaign was a little on the short side, but considering I paid less than ten bucks for the game, I think I got my length of time enjoyment out of it. Eight missions, each of which took a little time to play, and a couple of the boss fights were hard even playing on the easiest level.

    Don’t look for anything super complex out of the story. It’s simple, easy to follow, and linear. We get a lot of familiar faces and some fairly recent big bads in the X-Men universe.

    There is a little bit of decision making needed here and there, mainly siding with the X-Men or the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants at various moments in each mission. It makes very little difference to the game play and apparently only materially to the final cut scene. Oh, you do get to choose your powers and the path they grown on, and that’s a nice bonus. Costume, genes, and powers all customizable, and XP can be used to power up a lot of these.

    But what you’re really getting out of this game is a bit of mutant wish fulfillment. I’m an X-Men fan from sometime in my early teen years, so I’ll give just about any game a try if it has them involved. Focus on them, and you’ll probably get a little of my money at some point.

    The scenery and characters are well rendered for 2011, but the characters in conversation or standing at rest were odd, like they all have a constant, whole body nervous twitch. But since you’re in combat or on the move most of the time, it’s not really that distracting. Sound and soundtrack work well, adding to the environment without being distracting.

    I was pretty impressed by the voice acting. While most things were pretty scripted, it didn’t feel that limited. Each cut scene got what it needed for writing and the actors delivered, meaning they actually acted, which was kind of cool.

    While I’m glad I got it on super sale last Boxing Week, it was a fun game, and it wouldn’t have bothered me to pay a few bucks more for it.

    But no, I probably won’t do another play through with either of the other available characters or at a higher difficulty level. I’ve got a lot of other games to play through. Still, I’m not ready to send it back to the recycled section of the games store yet.

    Let’s call it a 6.5 out of 10.

    Be well, everyone.


    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
  • Reading

    What I’m Reading

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather

    So I signed myself up for the Goodreads reading challenge again this year, and increased my target to 50 books, theoretically almost one per week. I’ve finished nine books so far this year, and I’m nearly done a tenth. That makes me 5 books behind schedule at the moment, but it’s not because I’m not reading, it’s because of what I’m reading.

    You see, a while back (last year), I started doing an X-Men re-read.

    X-Men, as in the comic book.

    I used to collect comic books, and I was a huge X-men fan, accumulating most issues of all of the regular series of titles (although not all of them new off the shelf, from issue 100-ish of the original series through to around 330. This is the series that most readers will know as The Uncanny X-Men.

    But I also did all of the primary spin off series in the same time frame: New Mutants, X-Men, X-Force, Excalibur, Alpha Flight, and some of the mini-series too, but my budget was limited most of the time when I was younger. There were a couple of other series I read consistently, too, but not always related: New Warriors, Darkhawk, and so on.

    Actually, I started the re-reads last year with Elfquest, The Tick, and Alien Legion, before moving into other things and winding up with the X-Men again.

    On the re-read cycle, I’ve expanded my X-Men to include more of the mini-series, and a couple of spin offs that I hadn’t gotten into at the time. And, using some online resources in addition to my many boxes of comics, I went right back to the beginning with issue #1. In the primary series, Uncanny, I just read issue #310. There have been a lot of story arcs, more than I remembered, and it’s been pretty neat to watch the development and redevelopment of the characters.

    Over the course of a little over a year, I’ve worked my way from the early 1960s origin of the team up to the mid 1990s. Forward momentum has slowed significantly as the storylines have gotten more intricate and span more titles. In the 90s, a lot more titles came out per month. And I’m getting close to the end of my own personal collection, so I’ll need to figure things out soon. I stopped collecting in mid 1996, though I went back for a scattering here and there over the next few years.

    Why 1996?

    We bought a house.

    And in 1998, we had our first child.

    Things kept building up from there.

    But I’ve been devouring them lately, to the point where they make up most of my reading. Really. I’ve read more than 500 comic books this year, and pretty much all of them are X-titles. And, like I said, I’m going to run out of hard copies very soon. However, at this point, the vast majority of everything I don’t have is available online. The Marvel digital subscription price is looking pretty good at $69 for a year with unlimited access. Of course, at my current rate of consumption, it will take me three more years to get close to the present. Which means that there’s a lot of story still to come.

    And that’s the way I like it.

    Be well, everyone.

    And don’t be afraid to read a comic book or two. If superheroes aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other genres out there. I promise, you can find something for any taste.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather